No, you’re not imagining it. Living rooms are officially shrinking! According to new research carried out by LABC warranty, lounges in Britain’s homes are now 32% smaller than the equivalent properties in the 1970s. Separate research conducted by Cambridge University in 2014 found that new build homes in the UK are the smallest in Europe. So, what are we to do about the lost square footage and what’s the best strategy for living with smaller spaces? Let’s take a look at how to make the most of shrinking living rooms.
Clever furniture choices
When you don’t have a lot of floor space to spare, you need to be even choosier about the furniture you select. In fact, if your lounge is on the small side, you may actually have issues putting essentials like sofas in situ. Go too large and you may find you have to take your UPVC glazed window out just so you can get your sofa in your living room! I may or may not be speaking from experience here!!! If you really need a larger sofa for lounging on, think about purchasing a two-piece L-shaped sofa that can be slotted together once in position so you can avoid awkward window removals! Many L-shape sofas can now be set up in right or left facing, so you can make the most of your room shape too.
Mounting your TV on the wall rather than on a stand is another commonly used space saver but if you want to get serious about reclaiming as many square inches as possible, it’s time to select stackable and multi-use furniture. Nests of tables are handy pieces that can be tidied away easily; footstools that double as storage space are a godsend when you need quickly clear up for a guest’s arrival too. Folding tables and chairs are great for creating a little kids’ play corner that can be stored away when not in use.
Blending and zoning
Even with smaller, cleverer furniture choices, some modern living rooms still feel cramped. After all, the living room tends to be the space where the family gathers together for activities. You might use the living room for watching TV together or as a space where the toddler plays with their toys or you may want to eat and entertain in your lounge. That’s a lot of demands put on a small space and a variety of different activities that require very different types of furniture. Many homeowners choose to alleviate this closed in feeling and accommodate different goings-on by blending and zoning spaces.
Fancy giving blending and zoning a go? Removing the wall between the living room and dining room will open up your space, but you may want to retain some element of separation. Floor-to-ceiling internal bifolds like these from Vufold will let lots of light flow through the space while giving you the option to close off into defined rooms. Alternatively, you could try your hand at simple zoning of your living room using separating furniture such as bookcases or other stylish options so that you have quieter nooks for play or activities like homework or reading.
According to research by Which, 24% of UK homes now contain some kind of smart home device. I have written about this before, the Dada Fairy has become hooked on smart home features these days! Some of these gadgets will be cameras aimed at increasing security or central heating control systems, but many more are likely to be smart TVs or hubs like the Amazon Echo. These nifty devices do your bidding with a simple voice command, playing your choice of music or film, searching the Internet for you or even making a call. Along with being the friend of multi-taskers – these gadgets can also prove to be handy space savers in the living room. With TV and music on demand you can rehome your DVD or CD collection and claim back valuable storage and surface space in your living room. Of course, if you’re one of the rising numbers of people who has returned to buying vinyl records, it might be time to think about where your record player and record collection lives in your home.
Clutter inevitably accumulates in the living room because it’s a place of doing. This means, after the kids have done their homework or you’ve come in from a walk and curled up on the sofa, the remnants of those activities tend to linger. Having a place for everything and everything in its place isn’t a strategy for everyone, but simple storage solutions can make it easier to keep things tidy and therefore feeling more spacious. Small changes can really make your life easier. For example, make sure there’s a spot for school bags next to the coat rails in your hallway or under stairs cupboard. If you’re not a fan of a shoe rack, look at alternative storage solutions such as shoeboxes, which can double up as tables, sideboards and seating too. Make use of walls as well as floors with wall mounted letter and magazines racks and vertical indoor planters to brighten up your space.
Are you constantly battling to keep a compact living room clear? What are your top tips for making the best of smaller new build living spaces?